School and Community ProgramsProgramming for Local Educational Institutions
School & Community Programs
The Balsam Mountain Trust is proud to offer low-cost, NC standard-based programming to local educational institutions. Trust programs offer an up-close and very personal encounter with some of this region’s most important, curious and amazing inhabitants. Students will learn about the rich biodiversity that makes western North Carolina so special. Forging this connection to the regions’ animals will help foster understanding, which will then lead to the future stewardship to protect these most important natural resources.
You and your students will never forget this wild, hands-on learning experience! You can find our Program Request form here or at the bottom of this page after looking through our program options.
Balsam Mountain Trust delivers programming to groups of all sizes and ages including schools, camps, libraries and more! The Trust offers both outreach programming at your facility as well as field trips to Balsam Mountain Preserve. Please note: animal encounters will be based on animal availability on that date. We reserve the right to change animals attending a program (if agreed upon) at any point prior to the event in the best interests of our animals should something arise.
- In-Person Outreach Programming
- Field Trips at Balsam Mountain Trust
- Discovery Boxes
- Virtual Programming
Balsam Mountain Trust OUTREACH presentations generally include 3-5 animal encounters and last around 1 hour. Please note: animal encounters will be based on animal availability on that date. We reserve the right to change animals attending a program (if agreed upon) at any point prior to the event in the best interests of our animals should something arise.
There is a 25% discount available for each additional program that is booked when booking 2 or more programs in the same request form. Mileage Fee: Standard IRS mileage rate of $0.56/mi will be charged for travel in excess of 25 miles from the Balsam Mountain Trust Nature Center.
OUTREACH PROGRAM OFFERINGS:
Animal Nursery Rhymes (Grades: Pre-K – 1) K.L.1, K.P.2, K.L.1
Students sing along to nursery rhymes about our animals (turtle, snake, opossum, and bird), then get to meet and learn more about them. Songs, movement, finger-play, and rhymes are guaranteed to engage and entertain your little ones. Not available for Assembly programs.
Amazing Adaptations (Grades: K-5; others by arrangement) 1.L.1, 1.L.2, 2.L.1, 4.L.1, 5.L.1
Learn about the different adaptations of animals by meeting some real-life examples! During this interactive lesson, we will explore Amphibians, Fish, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. This program can be tailored to different ages to cover NC standard topics such as body coverings, structural anatomy, biodiversity, adaptations and evolution, and human/environment interactions.
Web of Life (Grades: 3-6; others by arrangement) 4.P.3, 4.L.1, 4.L.2, 5.L.2, 6.L.2
How does energy move through an ecosystem? How are living things connected? We’ll answer these questions and more with some help from our live ambassador animals! This program can be tailored to different ages to cover NC standard topics. Not available for Assembly programs.
Don’t see a program that fits your needs? Educators are invited to work with the Trust Education Department to curate a program that will fit the desired program need.
We have multiple options for programming on-site here at the Nature Center. You can choose from a program, a nature hike, or both! Each of the offerings allow for time to explore the Nature Center and our animal habitats. The Trust Nature Center has restrooms and a picnic area for your use. We require a signed safety release waiver form for all participants that will be provided prior to the program date.
Field Trips at Balsam Mountain Trust are available Tuesdays to Fridays throughout the months of March to November (March and November dates are weather dependent for the safety of participants, staff, and animals)
Nature Hike (Grades K-12), 1.5 hrs
Stomp through our streams, hike through our forests, and find where different organisms make their homes. Guided by one of our naturalists, you will be greeted almost immediately by a waterfall, and then meander down a lush, forest trail. This hike can be tailored to meet the learning goals and accommodations of your group. Please note: While participants can see our animals on-site, there will be no up-close animal encounters. If that is something that is of interest, you may book a Hike and Program Field Trip.
Programs (Grades K-8), 1 hr
- Aquatic Ecology: The Wonder of Water (Grades: 5-8), 1.5 hrs
Get ready to get muddy! Join in on the exploration and identification of residents of the aquatic world. The water on the Preserve is considered some of the cleanest around. Learn: what it takes to keep it that way; what clean water provides for the residents of the streams on the Preserve; how this most important of our natural resources provides for an amazing diversity of life, and finally – how to identify clean water by the critters that live in it.
- Amazing Adaptations (Grades K-5), 1.5 hrs
Learn about the different classifications of animals by meeting some real-life examples! During this interactive lesson, we will explore Amphibians, Fish, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. This program can be tailored to different ages to cover NC standard topics such as body coverings, structural anatomy, biodiversity, adaptations and evolution, and human/environment interactions.
- Birds, Birds, Birds (Grades 3-8), 1.5 hrs
Learn about the Trust’s Birds of Prey! During this interactive lesson, we will explore the different types of birds we have living at the Nature Center. The group will be able to see how our Staff/Volunteers train our birds for free-flight and programming. This program can be tailored to different ages to cover NC standard topics such as body coverings, structural anatomy, biodiversity, adaptations and evolution, and human/environment interactions.
- For grades 6-8, Owl pellet dissections can be added to this programming for an additional $2 per participant. This will add on 30 minutes to the programming. Based on pellet availability, please inquire about this program add-on.
Don’t see a program that fits your needs? Educators are invited to work with the Trust Education Department to curate a program that will fit the desired program need and/or to utilize the Preserve as a living laboratory.
Are you looking to offer programming to work towards the ecoEXPLORE program? Balsam Mountain Trust and our AmeriCorps program are offering programming that can help you earn badges from the ecoEXPLORE citizen science program through the North Carolina Arboretum. If you are a public library/school or a Title 1 program, you can be provided programming at no charge for the listed programs below.
The following programs will be available:
|Field Season/Availability||Program Description|
|Ornithology Field Season (January, February)||Amazing Avians– Flock to your local library and join us in learning about our feathered friends; the birds! In this program we will learn about unique adaptations of birds, how important they are to an ecosystem, and meet a few birds of prey.|
|Botany Field Season (March, April)||Backyard Botany– Plants are the base energy source for almost all animal life on Earth, but how much do you know about our green friends? Join us in learning about the complex lives of plants in our botany lesson with our AmeriCorps member.|
|Herpetology Field Season (May, June)||Slithering Scales– Slither and hop to your local library to learn about the reptile and amphibians we share our world with. Discover what makes them unique with our AmeriCorps member.|
|Entomology Field Season (July only)||Creepy Crawlies– Information provided soon.|
|Mycology Field Season (October only)||Fantastic Fungi– Sneak a peek at the fantastical world of mycology with our AmeriCorps member. Learn about the thousands of species of fungus and go on a mushroom hunt if weather allows as well as examine real specimens up close! This program will be held during peak mushroom season in the Blue Ridge Mountains.|
|Mammalogy Field Season (November, December)||Mammal Madness– Join us in learning about the magnificent world of mammals! Using real biofacts, print casts, and a live animal we will discuss the unique adaptations of mammals as well as identify various species with a guessing game that’s fun for all ages.|
What is ecoEXPLORE?
“ecoEXPLORE (Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education) is an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8. Developed by The North Carolina Arboretum, this innovative program combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology to foster a fun learning environment for children while encouraging them to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science.” (Source: The NC Arboretum)
Discovery Boxes are currently available to all 1st/2nd grade teachers in public schools around the WNC region. The Trust Staff recognized the need for quality, accessible conservation-based programming in the local school systems and partnered with the Jackson and Haywood county school boards to design curricula that addressed state science standards. Cultivating an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and our connection to it is vital for a healthy environment and society. The activities in the kit are hands-on and designed to encourage outdoor exploration and learning. They also provide young children with exposure to STEAM fields at an age-appropriate level, incorporating math, language arts, social studies, and art into the realm of science. We hope that through the implementation of these activities, the students will not only learn about the basics of pollination but also increase their appreciation and curiosity for the natural world. We challenge and encourage teachers to conduct as many of the kit activities in the outdoors as possible.
Current Discovery Box Offerings:
Pollinators– This Discovery Box addresses three concepts: the basics of plants, the process and importance of pollination, and human impacts on pollinators. Each concept has corresponding background information and is correlated to the NC State Standards. With pollinators in peril, this could not be a better time to address this topic with young learners. The Discovery Box includes activity lessons and the supplies needed to complete the activities.
Balsam Mountain Trust outreach presentations generally include 3-5 live animals and last between 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the program you choose. Virtual programs are accessible via a viewing link that will be provided prior to the date of programming.
Balsam Mountain Trust Programming Fees
|Program Type||Length of Program||Minimum/Maximum # of Participants||Pricing|
|Outreach – Classroom||Up to 1 hr||<35 students||$125|
|Outreach – Assembly||Up to 1 hr||<150 students||$275|
|Outreach – Library/Non-profit||Up to 1 hr||Event Space Limit||$200 w/o Birds of Prey $250 w/ Birds of Prey|
|Outreach- Other Community Group||Up to 1 hr||Event Space Limit||$300 w/o Birds of Prey $350 w/ Birds of Prey|
|Festival/Table Event||Determined by Event||No Limit||$150/hr|
|Field Trip – Hike/Nature Center Only||1.5 hrs of Programming + 1 hr Lunch||Min: 10 Homeschool Groups/ 20 School Group Max: 45 participants (youth/adults)||
2 Teachers FREE
|Field Trip – Program/Nature Center Only||1.5 hrs of Programming + 1 hr Lunch||Min: 10 Homeschool Groups/ 20 School Group Max: 45 participants (youth/adults)||
2 Teachers FREE
|Field Trip – Hike/Program||2.5 hrs of Programming + 1 hr Lunch||Min: 10 Homeschool Groups/ 20 School Group Max: 45 participants (youth/adults)||
2 Teachers FREE
|Virtual Live||1 hr||No Limit||$100|
|Virtual 1 Wk Access||1 hr||No Limit||$125|
|Virtual 1 Mo Access||1 hr||No Limit||$200|